Weekend Link Roundup (December 8-9, 2018)

December 09, 2018

F2abfbb4-60b6-4641-ae9f-37fc3299453b-Dole_BushA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Children and Youth

Here on PhilanTopic, the Heising-Simons Foundation's Barbara Chow, and Shannon Rudisill, executive director of the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, discuss  the results of a joint effort to map the last ten years of philanthropic giving in the field of Early Childhood Care and Education

Climate Change

On the Surdna Foundation site, Helen Chin, director of the foundation's Sustainable Environments program, explains how a recent rethinking of the program was an "opportunity to build community resilience...in partnership with grantees working at the frontlines in communities of color — communities hardest hit by climate change, disinvestment, and racist planning practices."

A caravan of Central American migrants "seeking relief from a protracted drought that has consumed food crops and contributed to widespread poverty," hundreds of millions of people in India at increased risk of not having enough water, prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa that has "pushed millions of the world's poorest to the edge of survival" — all, writes Landesa's Karina Kloos, "are stark reminders that the most severe consequences of climate change are being inflicted upon people living in the Global South...."

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg traveled to Iowa this week to take the temperature of Democratic primary voters and while there vowed to make climate change "the issue" of the 2020 presidential race. Trip Gabriel reports for the New York Times.

Criminal Justice

A new report funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation found that the arrest rate for California has dropped 58 percent since 1989, reaching a historic low of 3,428 per 100,000 residents in 2016. The report also found that individuals who are arrested tend to be nonwhite, younger, and male; that racial disparities in arrests have narrowed; that overall declines are mainly due to plummeting arrest rates for juveniles and young adults; and that women account for nearly a quarter of all arrests.

Giving

Carolyn Kenyon and Judith Jones, both of Ithaca, New York, raised $12,500 and sent it to  R.I.P. Medical Debt, a New York-based debt-forgiveness charity, which then purchased a portfolio of $1.5 million of medical debts on their behalf. Sharon Otterman reports for the New York Times.

Nonprofits

Forbes contributor Afdhel Aziz has a nice Q&A with Robert Egger, founder of D.C. Central Kitchen, Campus Kitchens, and the recently shuttered L.A. Kitchen, who tells Aziz that he is "dedicating the rest of my career to 'taking a knee' so that younger [social sector] leaders can climb up on my shoulders, see the future coming, and react with their own ideas."

Is your organization thinking about scaling a program or initiative? Forbes contributor Eric Griswold has some good advice for boards and management teams about the areas they should focus on.

Two new reports, one from the Center for Effective Philanthropy and the other from Open Road Alliance, "suggest that nonprofits need to speak up and be more direct in their communications with foundations. After all," writes Open Road's Maya Winkelstein on the CEP blog, "funders can't solve problems they don't know exist."

What is decision fatigue and how can you avoid it? Nonprofit AF's Vu Le and his team at Rainier Valley Corps have stumbled into an alternative that just might be the answer.

Social Good

"With a growing number of indicators pointing towards the coming end of the business cycle," writes Avi Deutch, a a principal at Vodia Capital, "it's worth considering how ESG and thematic impact investing strategies will fare during the next recession."

(Photo credit: Associated Press)

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

NoVo Foundation: Empowering Marginalized Women to Drive Change

December 08, 2018

Too often funders doubt the ability of grassroots leaders to drive change, but NoVo Foundation's grantee partners are proving them wrong.

NCRP-2013logo-color-no-taglineNoVo believes that centering the leadership of people who live every day with injustice is the single most powerful way to create transformative change.

The foundation's consistent adherence to its values was a major factor in it being named an NCRP Impact Award winner in 2013. In making the announcement, NCRP highlighted the foundation’s investment in training, coaching, and networking grassroots women leaders through its Move to End Violence initiative, which continues to support leaders in the U.S. working to end violence against girls and women.

Today, NoVo is putting these values to work in even more ways.

Against the backdrop of the #MeToo revolution, NoVo has spent the last year convening hundreds of donors and funders to hear directly from activists working to end violence against girls and women. In New York, London and Los Angeles, these activists challenged philanthropy to meet this once-in-a-lifetime moment of opportunity for transformative change, made possible by millions of girls and women speaking truth to power, sharing their stories, and demanding safety and dignity. Now that effort is poised to bring new resources to the table. In the coming weeks, NoVo will stand with a dynamic group of funders to launch a new landmark fund to end gender-based violence and build women's power.

In 2017, in response to Donald Trump's election, NoVo announced the launch of the Radical Hope Fund, a new $34 million commitment to support bold and transformative social justice work around the globe. In its first year, the fund has supported nineteen projects spanning six continents that leverage new partnerships for innovative and transformative social justice work.

The Florida Immigrant Coalition, which includes women leaders from more than nine organizations, received $2 million over four years to advance a new initiative, Radical Hope Florida, aimed at sharpening the feminist lens of existing racial, economic, and gender justice organizations in the state, transforming the values and politics of Florida.

The Center for Justice at Columbia University received $2.5 million over four years for the Women Transcending initiative, an effort to support a network of women impacted by mass incarceration and help them organize to transform the structure of the justice system.

The Radical Hope blog raises up the social justice work of these and other grantee partners for anyone who is interested. NoVo notes that the Impact Award was an endorsement of the power of their grantee partners’ work, and the blog lends additional credibility to the voices of those who often go overlooked by society.

NoVo also is one of the initial partners in Grantmakers for Girls of Color, a network committed to expanding support for girls of color in the U.S., and it is launching The Women’s Building at the site of a former women’s prison in New York City. The transformative space is expected to provide leaders working to end violence and discrimination against all girls and women with a place where they can collaborate and leverage their shared power to create lasting change.

NoVo Foundation models what it means for a foundation to be anchored in its values. Through its grantmaking and other practices, it invests in collaborations with others who share its goals and vision, while making space for its partners to operate in similar fashion.

The foundation would not have achieved the impact it has, however, if it wasn't willing to put its trust in the innovation and wisdom it routinely finds in marginalized communities.

The lesson? Funders can achieve the broader social impact they seek when people who are directly affected by injustice have access to unrestricted funding, platforms on which to share their vision, and a seat at the tables where philanthropic decisions are made.

Headshot_jeanne_islerJeanné L.L. Isler is vice president and chief engagement officer at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

Rooted Communities: Placemaking, Placekeeping

December 06, 2018

IRetail for rentn Seattle's Central District, or "CD," gentrification and rapid development are displacing the largest African-American community in the state, reducing opportunities for wealth creation and accumulation among thousands of lower- and middle-class people and threatening the black community's political representation in city government, as well as its social, cultural, and economic capital.

In just a single generation, the African-American share of the neighborhood's population has fallen from 70 percent to under 20 percent, creating a cultural "diaspora" from what had been a diverse, welcoming neighborhood for more than a hundred and thirty years. Shaped early on by racist housing policies that pushed families of color into the neighborhood and limited their access to economic opportunity, African-American members of the community responded by building powerful neighborhood businesses and institutions. Now, those businesses and institutions are being forced out by surging rents and taxes, eroding the sense of community in the district.

Nationally, African Americans have a homeownership rate of 42 percent, a rate virtually unchanged since 1968 and a third less than the 70 percent enjoyed by whites. In Seattle, the home ownership rate for African Americans is just 24 percent. Low rates of home ownership, in both Seattle and nationally, increase African Americans' vulnerability to gentrification, which inevitably leads to rent increases, reduces the stock of affordable housing, and decreases economic opportunity for long-time members of the community.

As the growing un-affordability of housing — coupled with historically low incomes in black communities — continues to drive displacement, Seattle's African American Financial Capability Initiative (AAFCI), a coalition of African-American organizations motivated to find long-term, community-based solutions to racial economic inequality, has recognized the need for a more synergistic approach to the problem. Seattle's AAFCI had its genesis in Creating an Equitable Future in Washington State: Black Well-Being & Beyond(42 pages, PDF), a 2015 report from the African American Leadership Forum–Seattle, Byrd Barr Place, and the Washington State Commission on African American Affairs. The report was generated as part of a three-year, $4.35 million investment by the Northwest Area Foundation in an AAFCI initiative aimed at establishing African-American communities of practice focused on racial economic inequality in six cities within its footprint, with technical assistance provided by the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at Prosperity Now. In Seattle, the CoP comprises Byrd Barr Place, the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, the Washington State Commission on African American Affairs, and the Africatown Community Land Trust (CLT).

CLTs, legal structures of communally owned property that are formed with the intent to preserve long-term control of land — often for the purposes of preserving a cultural and/or economic mission such as affordability for businesses and housing — have proven effective in slowing the negative impacts of gentrification and provide a mechanism for more equitable land development and ownership. While there are hundreds of CLTs in the United States, relatively few exist in urban areas, and even fewer work to address the racial disparity of gentrifying cities. Those that do, however — including Dudley Street in Roxbury, Massachusetts — are proving to be successful.

In Seattle, Africatown CLT is actively involved in two commercial development projects — the Liberty Bank Building and Midtown Plaza — which will provide more than two hundred and fifty affordable housing units in the heart of the city. And it is working on three additional projects, with the goal of ensuring that African-American families in Seattle most threatened by displacement can live and thrive in the city.

Drawing on the strength of the culturally-anchored land trust model, AAFCI's SeattleCoP is developing a twenty-first-century African-American Community Land Trust blueprint. Building on the success of the Africatown CLT, the CoP is finalizing a replication model, Rooted Communities, to help communities of color across the nation who are grappling with the negative effects of gentrification. The goal of the model is to enable local communities in mid-tier metropolitan areas where land is still readily available to understand, form, and run CLTs.

The Seattle CoP also plans to include a culturally responsive financial education program focused on short-term personal finances as well as long-term wealth-building at the individual and family levels, and it is exploring how to augment existing programs and community development networks to more consistently deliver content and technical assistance in ways that are motivating and actionable.

Next steps for the pilot phase project include working with other similarly situated communities across the state and nationally to implement land trust models with a similar mission. AAFCI hopes to officially launch the blueprint before the end of the year, and communities interested in participating are encouraged to check out www.ourrootedcommunities.org after December 10 for more information.

As Seattle moves to identify and build upon what works for African-American communities, we are hopeful that the community engagement and CLT model we develop here can serve as an example for communities of color nationally that are dealing with issues of gentrification and displacement. It is our belief that we are stronger together, especially when that work builds on a rich history and powerful traditions.

AndreaCaupain 2Andrea Caupain Sanderson is CEO of Byrd Barr Placeformerly Centerstone, a nonprofit that works for a more equitable Seattle by providing lifeline services to the poor.

Liberty Hill Foundation Pushes for Higher Social Justice Standards

December 05, 2018

Liberty Hill Foundation's approach over the last forty years has been to ask grassroots community organizing leaders, "How can we help?"

NCRP-2013logo-color-no-taglineStaff would do what communities asked of them, providing general operating support and multiyear funding, when possible, and stepping back so that community organizers could take the lead.

This is why Liberty Hill won an NCRP Impact Award in 2013; its grantee partners have won important policy and social victories, including passage of the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

But, recently, the foundation has acknowledged the extent of its power and influence and made a conscious decision to leverage it more aggressively.

In the wake of the 2016 election, Liberty Hill staff observed that many of their allies were overwhelmed and feeling pressure to respond to the onslaught of policy and social threats to their communities. They knew that defending the gains made by progressive social movements was important, but they also knew that being in Los Angeles made it easier to secure gains that weren't possible in other parts of the country.

Liberty Hill staff engaged board members, donors, grantees, and other allies to discuss how, beyond, funding, it could strategically support the work of progressive nonprofits in Los Angeles.

The resulting Agenda for a Just Future aims to:

  • End youth incarceration as we know it.
  • Fight for a roof over every head.
  • Eliminate oil drilling near homes and schools.

The foundation does not compete with its grantees but instead looks for ways to exercise its power in roles that support grantees. For example, it has organized pooled funds to advance policy initiatives. Foundation staff have met with the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times to influence the coverage of issues that are important to grantees. And staff are working to leverage longstanding relationships with public officials, advocate around grantee issues, and organize wealthy progressive philanthropists to move more of their funds to grassroots groups.

The foundation's long-term investment in building relationships with grassroots leaders makes it easier for it to be effective in the face of urgent threats. It's also why community organizers are willing to provide forty hours of their time over a four-month period to serve on a community funding board and help Liberty Hill’s staff and board make grant decisions. While they can ask for reimbursement for their service, very few do. The advisory board, in turn, helps build accountability within the foundation and fosters stronger ties to and trust among members of the community.

Funders in communities less progressive than Los Angeles can have the same kind of impact by adopting two practices modeled by Liberty Hill:

  1. Invite grantees to inform your strategies, decisions, and practices via surveys, grantmaking and advisory boards, and ongoing conversations.
  2. Keep asking, "How can we help?" and use your foundation's power to play an advocacy role that complements your grantees' strategies.

Liberty Hill Foundation did not panic in the face of systemic attacks on the communities it is committed to serve. Instead, the foundation's leaders, informed by the deep relationships they had forged  over decades, made an honest assessment of the foundation's role in the social justice ecosystem in Los Angeles. Our current social and political climate requires other funders to do the same: recognize and step into your power and, in partnership with marginalized and underrepresented communities, use it to move our economic, legal, and educational systems toward greater equity.

Headshot_jeanne_islerJeanné L.L. Isler is vice president and chief engagement officer at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

A Conversation With Barbara Chow, Heising-Simons Foundation, and Shannon Rudisill, Early Childhood Funders Collaborative

December 04, 2018

This month, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, and Foundation Center will be launching a joint effort to map the last ten years of philanthropic giving in the field of Early Childhood Care and Education. The resulting interactive map of the funding landscape is publicly available and offers a valuable starting place for funders and practitioners to explore historical giving data in the context of demographic and education indicators. The map also includes deep dives into the evidence base around professional development and family engagement efforts, two areas of particular growth and interest to the field. A free webinar about the project will be held starting at 1:00 pm EST on December 12.

In advance of the launch, we spoke with Barbara Chow, director of the education program at the Heising-Simons Foundation, and Shannon Rudisill, executive director of the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, about the project.

Headshot_chow_rudisill_compFoundation Center: Tell us about your motivations for commissioning and/or participating in this effort.

Barbara Chow: Well, we were about to start a strategic planning process, so naturally, the first question we set out to address was, how does our past and future funding fit into the larger funding landscape? We recognized that our understanding of the landscape was largely anecdotal as opposed to empirical. So, our interest was in figuring out whether what we had assumed to be true could be validated by grants data.

I realized that this was not the first time I had encountered this question. Usually, a foundation works with a consultant to conduct a series of interviews for the purpose of understanding the funding priorities of other foundations. The limitation of this approach, in my experience, is that as soon as the scan is completed it’s often out of date because one of the foundations has embarked on its own strategic planning process and will soon be on to something different. The real value in working with Foundation Center on this is that the map is dynamic and continuously updated with new data. It doesn't require human beings to go back and redo it every time a foundation wants to scan the field.

Shannon Rudisill: This project and the idea of hosting it with the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative is a natural fit for us. As our name says, we are about helping philanthropic collaborations in the area of early childhood get started, deepen their work, and thrive. The map is a fantastic tool for helping both national and regional foundations identify others who are working on these issues and who have similar goals.

The other reason this is a great resource to have sitting with the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative is because, as a publicly available resource, it’s not only available to ECFC members and early childhood funders, it’s also available to funders who are focused on K-12 education, poverty alleviation, and family economic success. We’re seeing a lot of outreach from folks working in those areas, and this tool can serve them as well.

Foundation Center: After spending a significant amount of time with both the grantmaking data and the evidence review, what are some of your takeaways?

Barbara Chow: I have four main takeaways.

My first takeaway is that, according to the map, between 2006 and 2016, philanthropy invested a little more than $6 billion in early childhood education. It's not a huge amount, especially when you think about it in relationship to public-sector funding for the issue, which is a much bigger number, and the clear and unequivocal return on investment for the field. Even though so many foundations are supporting powerful work, the scale overall is pretty small.

Shannon Rudisill: One way to think about it is that when looking at the total philanthropic funding over ten years, it's about two-thirds of annual public funding for the Head Start program.

Barbara Chow: The second thing I took away from the map is that the ECE funding landscape is fairly fragmented. When we look more closely at the $6 billion of funding over ten years, we see that the number of recipients and number of funders is not that different. Unlike some other fields, the bulk of the money is not going to a few nonprofits; in the case of ECE, it's going to a lot of different groups. In some ways that mirrors the fragmentation of early childhood care and education generally in this country. Unlike K-12, which has a lot of challenges and can be a hard system to move but nevertheless is a system, ECE isn’t. It's an amalgamation of many, many different funding sources, each with their own interests and each subject to different regulations from different levels of government, whether federal, state, or local. And that has resulted in a lot of challenges for providers, who struggle to meet all the different requirements from different government agencies, as well as for families, who have to contend with a maze of different, non-intersecting requirements. This fragmentation is a topic that the ECE field talks and worries a lot about, and it is something that philanthropy is trying its best to address. But the numbers here suggest a lot of dispersion, despite what in my experience has been a high level of collaboration in the early childhood grantmaking community.

Shannon Rudisill: I agree that we are still a long way from a cohesive early childhood system, but when I look at this data, I draw a different insight.  Due to the lack of adequate public funding, I see a layer of philanthropic funding spread thin across a lot of areas. There are so many bases to be covered because there is no publicly-funded system. If we had a system, philanthropy could concentrate resources on innovation, cutting-edge professional development, or driving changes to an already functioning system. But a lot of funders are just trying to provide basic spaces for care because there is such a shortage. By any measure, only a third — or fewer — of eligible families are getting the public subsidies they need to pay for care. And what you get when you have an environment of scarcity like that is people trying to cover a lot of bases with limited dollars.

Barbara Chow: As for the more specific takeaways, there's a part of the map that lets you look at the kinds of strategies that foundations employ in supporting the field, and a couple of things really jumped out at me. One is that the level of general operating support — which is usually considered to be a best practice in philanthropy — is pretty small in the ECE space. In 2015, it was 14.6 percent, compared to 20.7 percent for K-12 funding. There are a lot of reasons for that, but it struck me as something we need to investigate. What also struck me was the level of support for policy and systems change, 5 percent, which is close to what we see in K-12 funding and is actually a little higher than what we see for the philanthropic sector overall. But given the importance of public funding in this field, it still seemed like a relatively low number to me.

Shannon Rudisill: I had the same takeaway as Barbara did in terms of the levels of public versus private investment. One of the things that ECFC has been particularly good at over the years is helping people think about the best use of private dollars in leveraging public money through public-private partnerships. This is a core ECFC principle. The data shows that to build the system we need for kids and families in this country, it's not going to be funded primarily by philanthropic money. The data helps us identify specific levers and best practices as we start to think about partnering with the public sector.

Foundation Center: Barbara, how do you think your program team members, and, Shannon, your members, will use the map?

Barbara Chow: Shannon already touched on this, but the Heising-Simons Foundation works both in California and nationally. We're already pretty familiar with our colleagues in California — although there are always foundations popping up that we haven’t worked with before. But nationally, for instance on the work we are doing around the ECE workforce, the tool will help us better understand the interests of foundations in states we are less familiar with.

I also foresee it being of assistance to us as we enter into new areas we have not yet worked in but are interested in exploring. The map gives us a set of other foundations and grantees we can look to who have already done work in a specific area and who we can consult with and learn from. For instance, we are interested in further supporting grassroots organizing. If you look at the data for that specific support strategy in the map, it quickly becomes apparent how little support there has been for it in the ECE space. I think it’s an area that is about to break out, but it doesn't yet command a lot of funding. The first name that came up when I searched for foundations supporting grassroots organizing was the Minneapolis Foundation, which is not a group I have worked with before, but now I know they have experience in this area.

It also can be helpful, if you’re working with a grantee for the first time, to speak with other funders of that organization to get a sense of how they work, what challenges they have experienced, and what’s the best way to support them.

Shannon Rudisill: We are seeing a real trend in new funders coming into ECE, whether they are new philanthropists who, after looking at a lot of the evidence, have decided that early childhood is going to be their focus or are funders who fund in related fields but want to add ECE to their portfolios. One of the things we do for new funders is to provide expertise on the topic and connect them with peer funders. The map will be a valuable tool in both orienting people who are new to the field and in helping them identify peers.

Foundation Center: As Barbara mentioned, it's not uncommon for funders to participate in scans that are static. But it's also become common for these scans to remain private. Can you speak to why it was so important to make public availability a guiding design principle of this project?

Barbara Chow: Like many others, we are huge believers in the value of funder collaborations. So, by making this work publicly available, we are hoping to stimulate even more collaboration. We also thought that if the map was made publicly available, many foundations would look at it and realize their data wasn't there. Our hope in making the map public is that it will stimulate other foundations to add their data and, more generally, report their grants data to Foundation Center electronically. There’s a network effect in that which is pretty important, but we only really benefit if the data is publicly available and accessible to lots of people. We very much see this as a first draft. It's a good one, but it will continue to change and get better over time. It's a start, not in any way an end, and the more foundations participate, the better the data will be.

Shannon Rudisill: When you really look at the map and the underlying data, it sparks really interesting conversations and new questions. Every time you look at it you're struck by something else. The biggest value might be the conversations that are sparked by the data.

— Gabi Fitz

Woods Fund Rejects Notion of Philanthropic Risk, Acknowledges Risk of Status Quo

December 03, 2018

Grantees of Woods Fund Chicago are working to move $25 million from Chicago's operating budget to support trauma-focused and mental health services for some of the most marginalized and vulnerable residents of the city. Without the investment, people in areas without city-run clinics may lose access to much-needed healthcare services. Winning the budget fight will save people's lives.

NCRP-2013logo-color-no-taglineSouthside Together Organizing for Progress, better known as STOP, is one of the organizations working to secure the $25 million, and it knows what it takes to win. In 2016, the organization was part of the Trauma Care Coalition, a group of community-based organizations that mounted a campaign demanding that the University of Chicago open a Level 1 adult trauma center in its South Chicago neighborhood.

When one compares the value of an adult trauma center (not to mention a $25 million investment) for a community like the South Side with the $30,000 general operating support grants the Woods Fund has awarded to STOP annually since 2005, one quickly realizes that any risk for the funder is slight.

Yet many funders look at community organizing and advocacy as something too risky for them to support. Yes, strategies that seek to change systems and advance equity can create conflict and challenge powerful individuals and institutions, but they are also the drivers of the kinds of long-term solutions that philanthropy considers its raison d'être. Funders must always remember that the perceived risk of investing in systems change strategies led by marginalized people cannot compare to the actual physical, financial, and emotional risks of grassroots leaders.

The Woods Fund makes a habit of the kind of "risky" grantmaking so many other funders avoid. Its 2013 NCRP Impact Award acknowledged its support for grantees like the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and the SouthWest Organizing Project, which helped win policy changes allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

And the foundation not only shares its power and resources with marginalized leaders through its grantmaking but also in the way it goes about its work. For example:

  • It contracted with three of its grantees to test and evaluate a new online grantmaking system.
  • It launched a pilot to support small, emerging grantees and hired a consultant to help the organizations navigate the new system and complete their applications.
  • Its leadership commits at least 30 percent of the foundation’s investments to socially responsible businesses led by marginalized people.
  • One of its core strategies is to invest in people and then get out of the way – behavior that invariably makes some funders uncomfortable.

After a convening of the foundation's grantees in 2017, grantees wanted to continue to share wisdom and advice with each other about how to best leverage community benefits agreements. Woods Fund staff did not attend the convening, but they supported the grantees that organized the event, and the foundation subsequently committed to organizing more of these "peer-shares" in the future.

Another important milestone for the foundation was the decision by its leaders, almost ten years ago, to make a commitment to racial equity. Once the board made clear its decision to commit to goals and practices that advance equity, the rest was relatively easy. The NCRP Impact Award in 2013 merely inspired the foundation to push ahead with its already impressive record of innovative grantmaking.

Based on its record of impact, Woods Fund Chicago's rejection of the notion that investing in grassroots groups equals risk has served it well. Our advice to other funders? Don't be afraid to reframe your idea of risk and acknowledge that, sometimes, it goes hand in hand with movements and community organizing. Think about what you're willing and able to do to ensure that the communities in which you work are health and thriving. And remember: grassroots groups are just as committed to their neighborhoods and communities as you are, if not more so.

Headshot_jeanne_islerJeanné L.L. Isler is vice president and chief engagement officer at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (November 2018)

December 02, 2018

Devastating wildfires in California, a freak early season snowstorm in the Northeast, and a blue wave that flipped control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the Democrats' favor — November was at times harrowing and never less than surprising. Here on PhilanTopic, your favorite reads included new posts by John Mullaney, executive director of the Nord Family Foundation in Amherst, Ohio, and Jeanné L.L. Isler, vice president and chief engagement officer at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy; three posts by Larry McGill, vice president of knowledge services at Foundation Center, from our ongoing "Current Trends in Philanthropy" series; and oldies but goodies by Thaler Pekar and Gasby Brown, as well as a group-authored post by Nathalie Laidler-Kylander, May Samali, Bernard Simonin, and Nada Zohdy. Enjoy!

What have you read/watched/heard lately that got your attention, made you think, or charged you up? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

Interested in writing for PND or PhilanTopic? We'd love to hear from you. Send a few lines about your idea/article/post to mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Funding for Democracy and Participatory Grantmaking: Two Sides of the Same Coin

November 29, 2018

In the wake of the U.S. midterms, it's easy to feel good about democracy and democratic practice. For those of us who were able to, exercising one’s right to vote can feel energizing. And the ubiquity of the 'I Voted' sticker on social media platforms offers a nice counterpoint to the all-too-common assertion that democracy is dying.

Trends cited as evidence of democracy's demise — dwindling participation in civic life, attacks on the press meant to undermine its legitimacy, the proliferation of digital disinformation, the rise of authoritarianism in formerly democratic countries — have been joined by renewed scrutiny of philanthropy, which finds itself under fire (once again) for being an anti-democratic tool of wealthy elites intent on shaping the world to their benefit. This criticism, however, exists alongside the reality that there are foundations funding efforts to strengthen democracy and loosen the grip of elite interests on the levers of power.

Democracy_twitter

Indeed, there's a substantial amount of philanthropic grantmaking informed by a belief that democracy is worth saving. At Foundation Center, we've captured this funding for the United States in a data tool, Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy, that we developed in partnership with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Open Society Foundations, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Democracy Fund, and the Hewlett, JPB, MacArthur, and Rita Allen foundations. The platform makes publicly available information on 57,000+ grants awarded by more than 6,000 foundations since 2011 in support of democracy, including efforts to foster an engaged and informed public and promote government accountability, as well as funding for policy research and advocacy.

Grants that meet Foundation Center criteria are included in the platform regardless of whether a grantmaker self-identifies as a "democracy funder." And grants are not limited to a particular segment of the political spectrum. On the platform, you'll find grants awarded to the Young America’s Foundation, which is "committed to ensuring that increasing numbers of young Americans understand and are inspired by the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values," alongside grants to People for the American Way, which was "founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values under attack, including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy."

Across the four major funding categories represented in the tool — Campaigns, Elections, and Voting; Civic Participation; Government; and Media — you'll also find support for activities that challenge the status quo in the U.S. and run counter to the interests of the power elite.

Examples include a $400,000 grant awarded by the Democracy Fund in 2017 to provide general operating support to Issue One, a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated "to fixing our broken political system and strengthening our democracy"; a $30,000 grant from the Consumer Health Foundation in 2016 to Virginia Organizing in support of that organization's advocacy efforts aimed at engaging the Latino community and other immigrant populations in healthcare reform in Virginia; and a $30,000 grant awarded by the Altman Foundation to ProPublica in 2017 in support of the nonprofit investigative journalism organization’s reporting on public institutions in New York State.

Funding efforts aimed at encouraging civic participation or promoting greater public accountability is one philanthropic approach to supporting democracy. Another, participatory grantmaking, looks to democratize philanthropy and philanthropic practice itself. As defined in an expansive guide on the topic recently released by GrantCraft, participatory grantmakers cede decision-making power about funding — including the strategy and criteria behind those decisions — to the very communities they aim to serve.

Final_Guide_CoverParticipatory grantmaking can take many forms — and we've collected detailed descriptions of the different models here. But at its heart, the practice operates on the principle that those affected by funding decisions have a right to make those decisions. By putting the expertise of those with lived experience at the center of the grantmaking process, participatory grantmaking affirms and supports the value of civic engagement.

Democracy funders and participatory grantmakers do not necessarily see themselves as peers: the former is largely comprised of more traditional funders (see a list of top funders in the data set), while the latter are largely — though not exclusively — smaller, cross-border or community-focused social justice funds. But both operate from a similar set of principles — that there's a democracy deficit in the public sector, the philanthropic sector, and society more broadly, and that the solution to closing those deficits includes increased participation.

The perceived divide between the two types of funders breaks down further when one observes that many participatory grantmakers are, in fact, democracy funders. And that participatory grantmaking processes often result in grants awarded to support greater civic engagement — a sort of democracy multiplier effect! Examples of grants made by participatory grantmakers in support of civic participation include:

Foundations that consider themselves to be democracy funders by virtue of their outward-focused grantmaking could take a page from the participatory grantmaking playbook and incorporate the values of transparency, inclusivity, and representativeness in their own internal practices. But being participatory involves more than just ticking a box, and the prospect of figuring out how and where to start can be overwhelming. Commitments to living one's values can be difficult on an individual level (just ask me how my efforts to shop less on Amazon.com are going), while implementing change at the organizational level is always daunting.

Recognizing that it's not feasible or even desirable for every funder to adopt the practice, the GrantCraft guide offers some suggestions on where to start:

  • Begin with a single program.
  • Support research and knowledge-sharing around the practice.
  • Where goals overlap, fund participatory grantmakers who have established trust with a community and have been honing their processes for years.

Though it may seems like a contradiction in terms, a belief in the value of democratic and inclusive practices cuts across all kinds of foundations, even those whose origin stories start with the accumulation of vast wealth by a single entrepreneur. Not that these foundations always live up to these values, or that funding democracy inevitably leads to a stronger, more participatory democracy. One thing is clear, however: our chances of achieving that goal are much greater when democracy funders and participatory grantmakers see each other as allies.

Anna Koob is a knowledge services manager at Foundation Center. Headshot_anna_koob

Hill-Snowdon Foundation's Courageous Philanthropy Defends Democracy

November 28, 2018

Since winning an NCRP Impact Award in 2014, the Hill-Snowdon Foundation has been unrelenting in calling out white supremacy and anti-black racism while taking risks to invest in black-led social change work.

2014-ncrp-impact-awards-winner-badgeThe D.C.-based foundation's grantmaking has long been bold, but the leadership it has modeled through its Defending the Dream Fund matches the urgency of the real threats to our democracy. The foundation's decision in 2017 to simplify its practices and collaborate with other funders in creating the fund has resulted in more than $1 million in rapid-response grants being moved to groups working to fight policies that threaten the most vulnerable populations in the United States.

Even in 2017, however, the foundation knew this moment in American history — one that has seen the emergence of movements calling for just and fair elections, human rights for LGBTQ people and people of color, and economic equity — would not last forever.

So the foundation launched its Making Black Lives Matter initiative (MBLM), pushing philanthropy to look beyond the immediate moment and invest in longer-term infrastructure for black-led social change work. Grantees, funding partners, and other nonprofit groups in the community have rated that work as the most impactful they have done in recent years.

How did the foundation do it?

The Hill-Snowdon board of directors worked for almost fifteen years to understand what it really means to seek systemic solutions led by the people who are most impacted by the issues the foundation cares about. Consultants helped educate board members about the reality of systemic change, and with that information in hand the board went out and hired Nat Chioke Williams, a longtime youth and community organizer who had served as a program officer at the Edward Hazen Foundation and the New York Foundation, as the foundation's executive director. When Williams approached the board a few years later about wanting to speak more publicly about Making Black Lives Matter, the board readily agreed. Within two months, the board went from talking about it to releasing a request for proposals in the area of black-led organizing and leadership development.

Unsurprisingly, the 2016 election inspired even more action from the foundation. In the months following the election, and after conversations with other funders, Hill-Snowdon developed a framework to "defend the dream" against the growing threats to our democracy. The framework made the fund actionable, and within a year other funders had pledged almost $600,000 to it.

That collaboration has helped "stretch" the foundation and its partners to fund groups new to their staffs, streamline their proposal processes, and support issues outside their regular portfolios.

Throughout the process, Hill-Snowdon focused less on building its own influence and more on using the influence it had to move others to act. And it succeeded. The Defending the Dream Fund has attracted other funders and activists who have come to the foundation because of the sharp analysis it offers around anti-black racism.

In developing MBLM and the Defending the Dream Fund, the foundation modeled three practices that funders of today's most important social movements would be wise to consider:

  1. Executive Directors/CEOs: The foundation's leadership engaged board members in discussions and activities that helped them internalize an intersectional equity analysis so that when opportunities emerged, they were well versed in the issues and able to move quickly.
  2. Boards: HS board members trusted and empowered staff to make courageous strategic decisions that advanced the foundation's mission.
  3. Staff: HS staff committed to a culture of accountability and ownership and used all the foundation's resources – reputation, status, networks – to advance bold ideas anchored in a racial equity analysis.

The Hill-Snowdon Foundation has shown its peers that funding systems change work requires a commitment to facing hard truths, a willingness to act, and resilience in the face of challenges. When staff, board, and foundation leaders take the time to educate themselves and hold one another accountable, they build a solid foundation for the impact they hope to achieve. Today, movement leaders across the country are making a real difference. They need more funders like the Hill-Snowdon Foundation to step up and support their efforts.

Headshot_jeanne_islerJeanné L.L. Isler is vice president and chief engagement officer at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

5 Questions for… David Egner, President/CEO, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

November 27, 2018

Established by the late owner of the NFL's Buffalo Bills with more than a billion dollars in assets, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation plans to spend those assets down, with a focus on western New York state and southeastern Michigan, by 2035.

David Egner was appointed president and CEO of the foundation in 2015, having served prior to that as president and CEO of the Detroit-based Hudson Webber Foundation. A fixture in Michigan philanthropy for decades, first as an executive assistant to longtime W.K. Kellogg Foundation CEO Russ Mawby, then as director of the Michigan Nonprofit Association and executive director of the New Economy Initiative, Egner is using his extensive knowledge, experience, and connections to make the Detroit and Buffalo metro region better places to live and work.

PND recently spoke with Egner about Ralph Wilson and his vision for the foundation and the two regions he loved and called home.

Headshot_david_egnerPhilanthropy News Digest: Who was Ralph C. Wilson? And what was his connection to Buffalo and southeastern Michigan, the two regions on which the foundation focuses most of its giving?

David Egner: Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. was a tremendously successful businessman and the beloved founder and former owner of the National Football League's Buffalo Bills.

The four life trustees he appointed to lead the foundation decided to focus its giving in the Detroit and Buffalo regions — southeastern Michigan and western New York — where Mr. Wilson spent most of his life and was the most emotionally invested. He had called metro Detroit home since he was two, and Buffalo became a second home after 1959 through his ownership of the Bills.

But above all, he's remembered for being a lover of people and of everyday difference makers. We want the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to be a testament to his spirit, and that ethos helps guide who we are, what we do, and how we help shape communities.

PND: Why did Mr. Wilson, who lived to be 95, decide to structure the foundation as a limited lifespan foundation?

DE: It was a very personal decision. First and foremost, it was born out of his desire to have an impact on everything he touched. Doing so ensures that the foundation’s work will be completed within the lifetimes of the people who knew him best, our four life trustees, and that its impact will be immediate, substantial, and measurable.

PND: The foundation is in the process of ramping up its annual grantmaking to $100 million or more. What are some of the challenges you've faced in going from a modestly sized regional foundation to a pretty large foundation with a lot of money to grant out over a limited lifespan?

DE: A major challenge we face as an organization is determining where we fit in the philanthropic marketplace. Given our somewhat unique life cycle, we're focused on identifying how we can add value, fill gaps, and exit gracefully.

Our team knows that philanthropy is an inherently collaborative endeavor. And we strive to operate within the values identified by our trustees as defined by Mr. Wilson — innovation, collaboration, and focus on outcomes.

That's why we’re so committed to working as a partner with local organizations and funders that have already been doing important work in Detroit and Buffalo. We want to support and work with organizations that are aligned with our key program areas. We can direct resources to initiatives, help them scale ideas and programs that are already working well, help them surface new ideas and approaches, and, hopefully, together have a lasting, sustained impact in both regions.

PND: Earlier this year, the foundation announced the launch of an afterschool initiative that is designed to boost the number of girls and students of color with an interest in STEM fields. How did you land on STEM education? What will success look like for that program? And how will you measure it?

DE: One of our interest areas is to help young adults and working families succeed in the workforce. As technology continues to advance, it is important that all communities have the opportunities and tools necessary for success when entering the workforce.

STEM education is a pillar of that focus. To prepare the next generation for the workforce, we not only need to close the gaps in STEM knowledge, we need to close the gaps that keep underrepresented youth from pursuing an interest in STEM subjects. Afterschool STEM programs also help build teamwork, problem solving, and communication skills, which are the kinds of skills that our fast-changing economy increasingly requires.

In the short-term, success will be measured by the quality and variety of the programs in the two regions, as well as the number of kids participating. Ultimately, success will be measured by job readiness and the employability of kids graduating from those programs. We likely will be measuring that in the latter stages of our lifespan.

PND: What are you and your colleagues doing to ensure that the foundation has a lasting impact in Detroit and Buffalo?

DE: Our team has had an ongoing dialogue about that. We're less than four years into our twenty-year lifespan, but the topic of how we exit and ensure that the work continues is always top of mind.

Mr. Wilson gave us a tremendous opportunity in setting up the foundation as he did. Because of its limited lifespan, there's an ever-present urgency to act, to "throw the ball," as he used to say. As a team, we have to balance that urgency with data and thoughtful partnerships.

We're hopeful that the scans and studies we have and are conducting will influence others to address the challenges and opportunities we’ve identified, now and as we exit different program areas. We are really focused on empowering key organizations and building sustainable leadership in each of those areas, and it's likely we will endow a number of initiatives toward the end of our lifespan. But, ultimately, it will be the empowerment of community leaders and the creation of a shared vision of progress that will determine whether we were successful.

— Matt Sinclair

Weekend Link Roundup (November 24-25, 2018)

November 25, 2018

Givingtuesday3A weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Arts and Culture

What role might foundations play in addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), a significant risk factor for a variety of health and social problems across the lifespan? John Mullaney, executive director of the Nord Family Foundation, has been thinking about that for some time now and, in a post here on PhilanTopic, shares his thoughts.

Climate Change

Thirty years after The New Yorker published "The End of Nature," Bill McKibben's seminal article about the greenhouse effect, McKibben returns to the pages of the magazine with a look at what we have learned in the decades since about climate change, extreme weather, and their impact on human society. You will not be encouraged.

Education

On the HistPhil blog, Leslie Finger, a political scientist and lecturer on government and social studies at Harvard University, considers some of the implications of foundation grants to state education agencies.

Fundraising

It's not enough for nonprofits to simply thank their donors, says Vu Le, who shares twenty-one tips designed to help you and your organization be better at recognizing and appreciating the people who support your work.

On the Bloomerang blog, Terri Shoemaker, chief strategy officer at Abeja Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona, pays tribute to "the small donor. The little ones. Those generous folks that give when they can to a mailing, online, or even to your very specific appeal on social media."

Governance

Why do we still struggle with diversity, equity, and inclusion in nonprofit governance? In a piece for the NonProfit Quarterly, Dr. Elizabeth Castillo, an assistant professor of leadership and interdisciplinary studies at Arizona State University, tries to answer that question.

Innovation

Increasingly, solutions to the growing social and environmental problems we face are likely to be incubated in and by cities. One major foundation is thinking creatively about how to accelerate that process. Ben Paynter reports for Fast Company.

Nonprofits

With #GivingTuesday and the end-of-the-year giving season upon us, Wise Philanthropy blogger Richard Marker shares some practical advice about making good choices with your charitable dollars.

Beth Kanter and Allison Fine have been researching AI for Social Good and Nonprofits, and their latest monthly roundup includes links to tools as well as AI resources in the areas of fundraising, ethics, workplace impact, and social good.

Philanthropy

Janet Camarena, director of transparency initiatives at Foundation Center, sat down with Understanding & Sharing What Works: The State of Foundation Practice, a new report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy, to see what it had to say about the barriers and catalysts to developing a culture of openness in philanthropy. Here's what she learned.

In a post on the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy blog, Reed Young, an events and webinar intern at NCRP, shares highlights of Resource Generation's Making Money Make Change conference, which brought community organizers, social justice funders, and young people of wealth and privilege together to engage in dialogue about the roots of the racial wealth divide and how they might create action plans to leverage their power and privilege to do something about it.

Racial Justice

And here on PhilanTopic, frequent contributor Kathryn Pyle considers the legacy of lynching and racial terror as portrayed in a new exhibit at Haverford College, on the Main Line west of Philadelphia.

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

'The Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America': Exhibit at Haverford College

November 21, 2018

"They're selling postcards of the hanging…"
— Bob Dylan, “Desolation Row”

Hank Willis ThomasI've listened to "Desolation Row" hundreds of times since it was first released in 1965, but only recently did I learn that it tells the story of the 1920 lynching of three African-American men in Duluth, Minnesota, where Dylan was born. On an interactive map at a current exhibit about lynching at Haverford College, on the Main Line west of Philadelphia, I found that horrific event — and discovered in the exhibit a group of artists whose response to the history of lynching brings the issue into the present in forceful and creative ways.

The history of lynching is generally known to mainstream American society and is better known to the African-American community, the primary target of lynching, as well as other targeted communities, including foreigners, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos. But like so much of the history of slavery and Jim Crow, the details have often been lacking or relegated to the background. Now, thanks to new digital technologies that make it easier to access and cross-reference public records, oral histories, and other types of documentation, researchers are creating a more complete understanding of lynching in the post-bellum and Jim Crow eras. For instance, while it has long been known that the states of the Confederacy were the scene of most lynchings, we are learning that communities in the North and West like Duluth were also the scene of lynchings, leading to the inescapable conclusion that the message implicit in such atrocities was intended to be a national one.

The challenge for all of us is what to do with that knowledge.

The Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit legal assistance and advocacy organization based in Montgomery, Alabama, has documented more than four thousand lynchings in the U.S. between 1877 and 1950. The organization published a report on its findings (now in its third edition) and has established a National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a museum, a research center, and community-based partnerships focused on registering lynching sites.

Developed in collaboration with EJI, the exhibit at Haverford, "The Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America," probes the connection between extra-judicial mob violence against African Americans during the Jim Crow era and how similar policies of control continue to define American society.

Exhibit organizer Lindsey Reckson, a faculty member at Haverford, told me when I visited recently that "The idea of legacy requires us to think through how this history is deeply, structurally embedded, and how it still shapes our justice system."

While the topic is deeply disturbing, the exhibit is inspiring, thanks to an impressive selection of works by contemporary artists and short videos, archival materials, and its focus on anti-racist activism.

Working closely with EJI and with support from Google, the Brooklyn Museum, in 2017, developed the core exhibit, which included a video talk by EJI founder Bryan Stevenson; photo-essay/oral histories and a short film featuring families of lynching victims; and an exhibition of art from the museum's collection. The show at Haverford’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery is the first stop in a traveling version of the Brooklyn Museum show and features new artwork, archival materials related to classes offered at the college, a number of documents specific to the Philadelphia region, and a special exhibit focused on a lynching in nearby Coatesville, Pennsylvania.

Reckson called on gallery director Matthew Callinan to help design the exhibit, while curator Kalia Brooks Nelson selected the artwork, including pieces by Josh Begley, Alexandra Bell, Sonya Clark, Ken Gonzales-Day, Ayana V Jackson, Titus Kaphar, Glenn Ligon, Lorna Simpson, and Hank Willis Thomas.

"Our guiding principle, set out by EJI, was to not reproduce the imagery of terror," Reckson told me. "Art gives us a way to do that. The artists in the show shift our gaze to white terrorism while attesting to the practice of erasure."

Each piece is clever and powerful, but several stood out for me. Hank Willis Thomas’ quilt, "Bars, 2017" (above), is made from old black-and-white-striped prison uniforms. Sonya Clarks' "Unraveled, 2015" consists of three piles of thread — red, white, and blue — that had once been a Confederate flag. Ken Gonzales-Day’s "Erased Lynching" series reproduces the infamous postcards of hangings but removes the victim, leaving only the crowd and forcing the viewer to consider the people who would gather to witness and celebrate these heinous acts.

Reckson's course on the cultural history of the death penalty includes a module on the journalist Ida B. Wells, who began documenting lynchings in 1892 after the murder of her friend Tom Moss in Memphis, Tennessee. Wells was the first reporter to expose the intent and extent of this form of state-sanctioned terror, and, after being forced into exile from the South, she fashioned a powerful anti-lynching legacy that included education, fundraising, and investigative reporting.

"It's very important to have Ida B. Wells in the exhibit," said Reckson. "I teach about her and Georgia Douglas Johnson, a poet and playwright, both of whom were active in exposing lynching."

Wells's 1894 pamphlet, "A Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the U.S.," is among several anti-lynching documents displayed in vitrines in the exhibit; a photo of Wells with Tom Moss's widow and children is nearby.

Other items in the exhibit include a photograph of "The Silent Protest, 1917," a parade in New York City denouncing the deadly East St. Louis riots, an outbreak of race-related violence started by a white mob; images from author Richard Wright and photographer Edwin Rosskam's book 12 Million Black Voices, 1941, a collection of photos commissioned by the Farm Securities Administration depicting black farmers' systemic disenfranchisement during the Great Depression; and several anti-lynching pamphlets selected from Haverford's Quaker & Special Collections.

"The Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America" exhibit runs through December 16 at the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery in the Whitehead Campus Center on the Haverford College campus. "The Lynching of Zachariah Walker: A Local Legacy," a related exhibit about a 1911 lynching in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, is on view through November 23. (See the website for information about a symposium held on November 16.) All events are free and open to the public.

(Photo credit: Bars, 2017. Quilt made out of decommissioned prison uniforms. © Hank Willis Thomas. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.)

Kathryn Pyle is a regular contributor to PhilanTopic. You can read more of her posts here.

The Power of the Arts to Heal

November 20, 2018

Muzika2The Nord Family Foundation has been exploring the role we can play regarding emerging evidence about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), a significant risk factor for a variety of health and social problems across the lifespan and a major factor in much of the work we fund. One of our recent grantees in this area is the Resilient Richland Initiative (RRI) in Columbia, South Carolina, one of several NFF-funded projects that are working to address trauma-informed care.

Our decision to support RRI is based on numerous conversations with leaders and officials from nonprofits, government, and schools who struggle to address complex social issues rooted in ACEs, which researchers have defined as physical or emotional abuse or neglect, sexual abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse or mental illness in the home, parental separation or divorce, having an incarcerated household member, and, in rare cases, not being raised by both of one's biological parents. According to researchers, the effects of sustained trauma during childhood and adolescence have an impact on adolescent health and educational status, increasing the likelihood of an adolescent having to repeat a grade, lowering his or her resilience, and increasing his or her risk for learning and behavioral issues, suicidal ideation, and early sexual activity and pregnancy. For too many in our nation, these factors can lead to a life of poverty and desperation.

Once ACEs have been diagnosed, the goal is to create resilience in the individual in which it has been diagnosed, with a focus on the assets — as opposed to risks and deficits — that he or she possesses, including such things as coping skills and family and community supports.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (November 17-18, 2018)

November 18, 2018

61ucszqqXOL._SX425_A weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Evaluation

On the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Jehan Velji and Teresa Power of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation share one of the lessons the team there has learned as the foundation pursues its limited-life strategy: the most important goal of evaluation is not to determine whether a program works or doesn't work, but to discover how to make a program work better over time.

Giving

Giving Compass, a nonprofit platform that is "organizing the world's information to make it easier to give well," recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. Interim CEO Stephanie Gillis reflects on what she and her team have learned over the last twelve months.

Guest blogging on the GuideStar blog, the Identity Theft Resource Center shares a few tips designed to help you avoid scammers and keep your personal data safe this giving season.

Health

Inadequate access to quality health care is a big problem in many rural areas. On the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Culture of Health blog, Melissa Bosworth, executive director of the Eastern Plains Healthcare Consortium, a five-hospital in Hugo, Colorado, shares five recommendations for anyone interested in improving rural health access and equity.

Nonprofits

Nonprofit leaders need to stop saying "There's only so much money to go around," writes Vu Le on his Nonprofit AF blog. It's "a counter-productive self-fulfilling prophecy" that jeopardizes the future of your organization — and besides, your communities deserve better.

In the same vein, Nell Edgington shares some thoughts about how nonprofits can break through the financial glass ceiling — a level above which the money just won't grow —  that seems to exist for so many of them.

Looking for a good read this holiday season? Check out this list from Beth Kanter of books that should be on every nonprofit professional's reading list.

Continue reading »

How We Actually Show Our Support

November 16, 2018

ActNowbuttonRecently, after a conference panel discussion, a young woman approached me as I was leaving the stage with a request I hear often from nonprofit professionals:

"Derrick, it would be great if you could show your support by tweeting and liking what we're doing."

Now, I happened to know she was part of a good cause and genuinely cared about the people her organization was serving. But the request was a little unsettling. Did she want me to show my support for her organization? Or for the people the organization was trying to help?

Let's examine the distinction.

We can show support for a cause in any number of ways. We can quietly make a donation through Facebook or an organization's website, create a scholarship in honor of a favorite teacher, or go big and make a lead gift for a building that will have our name on it. We can sign a petition, write our representatives in Congress, share an image or post on social media, or boycott a company or product. We can even walk, run, or bike for a cause or grow a mustache for a month.

All of these are tangible displays of how we, as an individual, feel about an issue — or, more accurately, about the people affected by that issue.

What these actions are not are displays of how we feel about an organization.

Someone who wears a pink hat or shaves her head is not doing it to say, "OMG, this organization is so great!" By putting her beliefs and personal experience out there for others to see, she is standing up and proclaiming, unequivocally, "I care, and I want everyone to know I care. And I hope you'll care, too."

Continue reading »

A Conversation With Ann Mei Chang, Author, 'Lean Impact: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good'

November 14, 2018

Poverty. Mass migration. Economic dislocation. Climate change.

The problems confronting societies around the globe are big and getting bigger. The resources available to address those problems, however, are shrinking, as governments burdened by huge debts and future obligations and corporations wary of controversy pull back from “feel-good” causes and collective action. And while countless foundations and civil society groups continue to fight the good fight, their resources seem Lilliputian compared to the magnitude of the challenges we face.

It’s a moment that demands big thinking, bold thinking but also creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. The kind of thinking we’ve come to expect from Silicon Valley, the global epicenter of a certain kind of innovation and can-do spirit. The question, for many, is: What, if anything, can technologists teach nonprofits and social entrepreneurs about social change?

In her new book, Lean Impact: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good, Ann Mei Chang, a respected social change-maker and technologist, tackles that question head-on. Based on interviews with more than two hundred social change organizations spanning almost every continent, the book distills the lessons learned by change-makers over the years into a set of "lean" principles for nonprofits looking to innovate their way to greater impact.

PND recently spoke with Chang about the genesis of the book, the sometimes testy relationship between tech and the nonprofit sector, and her advice for millennials and social entrepreneurs impatient with the slow pace of change.

AnnMeiChang-32Philanthropy News Digest: How did you get into social change work?

Ann Mei Chang: I studied computer science in college and then worked in Silicon Valley for over twenty years, at big companies like Google, Apple, and Intuit, as well as a number of start-ups. But I had known since my mid-twenties that I wanted to spend the first half of my career in tech, and the second half doing something more meaningful, something to make the world a better place. I hoped I would be able to make that change, and I was committed to it, although I didn't know exactly when or how. But as I got closer to that point in my career, in my early forties, I began to look around at all the things I cared about, and decided to focus on global poverty, as it seemed to be at the root of so many other problems I cared about.

I recognized there was a lot I needed to learn about a very different space. I ended up taking a leave of absence from Google and went to the State Department on a fellowship, where I worked in the Secretary's Office of Global Women’s Issues, with a focus on issues around women and technology. It didn't take long before I was hooked. I resigned from Google and signed on for another year. After the State Department, where a lot of the work takes place at the ten-thousand-foot level, I joined a nonprofit called Mercy Corps to learn how the real work was being done in the trenches.

Then I was offered my dream job — as the first executive director for the Global Development Lab at USAID, the agency's newest bureau with an inspiring two-part mission. The first part was to identify breakthrough innovations that could accelerate progress in the global development and humanitarian aid work that USAID does. And the second was to look at how we could transform the practice of global development itself by bringing new tools and approaches to table. The first was the "what," and the second the "how."

It fit exactly into the way I was beginning to think about what was really needed to make a difference. That's why it felt like a dream job — it was an opportunity to do this work at the largest aid agency in the world, in the belly of the beast, so to speak, but where I'd be responsible for thinking about how we could work differently and more effectively.

PND: It's an interesting career trajectory, in that it bridges the worlds of both technology and social change. In your experience, do technologists get social change? Or do they tend to see it as another problem that needs to be "engineered"?

AMC: That really depends on the technologist. As with everything, people in tech exist on a spectrum. I've known people in tech who think that technology can solve everything — we'll build a smart phone app and that will somehow end global poverty. There can be a naiveté and hubris, especially when you’re building products for people who live in contexts that you’re not that familiar with.

But there's also a thriving community of tech people in the global development sphere — we call it ICT4D, or information communication technologies for development — who are both technologists and development professionals looking at the intersection between the two. This community has developed something called the principles for digital development, which embody the best practices for the responsible use of technology in development.

One of the really exciting things that happened while I was in government was the creation of US Digital Services and 18F, where a lot of people from the tech sector came in to work for the govern­ment and saw that their skills could be put to use to help the government better serve people. It was catalyzed by the debacle with HealthCare.gov, which caused a lot of people to recognize that tech had something it could contribute that would really make a difference.

Continue reading »

Tracking California Wildfire Disaster Relief - 2018

November 13, 2018

Updated: December 5, 2018 - 4:30 AM ET

Exurban development, Santa Ana winds, and a decade-long drought driven by a warming climate — those are some of the factors that came together on November 8 in California to create some of the worst wildfires in the history of the state. As of December 2, the Camp Fire north of Sacramento had been 100 percent contained, but not before burning more than 153,000 acres, obliterating 17,000+ structures and most of the town of Paradise, and claiming the lives of 88 people (with 25 people still unaccounted for), making it the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. Farther to the south, in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, the Woolsey and Hill fires were also 100 percent contained, after having claimed the lives of three people and consuming 1,640 structures. According to catastrophe modeler RMS, insured losses from the wildfires are expected to range between $9 billion and $13 billion.

As we did with hurricanes Florence and Michael, Foundation Center will be tracking institutional pledges and commitments to wildfire relief and recovery efforts over the coming days and weeks. To make sure your company or organization's pledge have been included in the total, or for questions about methodology or sources, contact Andrew Grabois, manager of corporate philanthropy at Foundation Center.

Woolsey Fire

(Photo credit: Hans Gutknecht/Digital First Media/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)

TOTAL: $16,843,500

Organization Type (pledges and commitments)

Corporate Direct Giving/
Company-Sponsored Foundations
$12,120,000 41 orgs.
Private Foundations $0 0 orgs.
Public Charities $3,973,500 6 orgs.
Other $750,000 1 org.

Top Recipients (Total Received to Date)

1. Unknown Recipient(s) $4,760,000
2. American Red Cross
(national)
$2,965,000
3. Multiple Recipients $2,247,500
4. North Valley Community Foundation $1,835,000
5. Tri Counties Bank Camp Fire Fund $1,000,000
6. Wildfire Relief Fund (California Community Foundation) $645,000
7. United Way of Greater Los Angeles $500,000
8. 3Core, Inc. $500,000
9. Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation $385,000
10. Women Economic Ventures $250,000

Source: Foundation Center & Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Download the Data

Check out Philanthropy News Digest for the latest coverage of
the philanthropic response to the wildfires in California.

And for more data on philanthropic giving for disasters since 2011, check out
our Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy mapping platform.

Weekend Link Roundup (November 10-11, 2018)

November 11, 2018

11-10-2018-malibu-fire-pchA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Civil Society

On the twenty-ninth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Richard Marker reflects on "the fragility of civil society, the brevity of memory, and the destructive hubris of leaders motivated by xenophobic rage."

Criminal Justice

In the New York Times, Michelle Alexander, author of the acclaimed The New Jim Crow, hails "the astonishing progress that has been made in the last several years on a wide range of criminal justice issues." But she warns that "[m]any of the current reform efforts contain the seeds of the next generation of racial and social control, a system of 'e-carceration' that may prove more dangerous and more difficult to challenge than the one we hope to leave behind."

Environment

The world is drowning in stuff, writes Elizabeth Seagran, PhD, a staff writer for Fast Company. Isn't it time for nonprofits and foundations to do the environment a favor and just say no to all the cheap swag they hand out at conferences and events?

Giving

Nice post on the Charity Navigator blog about philanthropically minded celebs who have turned giving into an art.

Governance

On the GuideStar blog, Bill Hoffman, CEO of Bill Hoffman & Associates, LLC, a Tampa-based consulting firm, shares six things individual nonprofit board members can do to support their CEO's success.

Continue reading »

Current Trends in Philanthropy: U.S. Foundation Support for Climate Action

November 09, 2018

IStock-470785468Released last month, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report paints a bleak picture of the disastrous consequences facing the planet if the average global temperature climbs 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The authors of the report warn that humanity will have to cut carbon emissions to almost half the 2010 level as early as 2030 in order to avoid long-lasting and potentially irreversible impacts from climate change, including the loss of many important ecosystems.

The issue of climate change and the impact of human activity on the environment has been hotly debated and has received significant attention from U.S. foundations. According to Foundation Center data, the largest one thousand U.S. foundations gave between $232 million and $261 million annually for climate-related issues between 2011 and 2015, with the exception of 2012, when a large infusion of funds into the ClimateWorks Foundation pushed the annual total to $340 million.

This represents about one percent of giving during that period but does not represent all giving that may contribute to the mitigation of climate change and its effects. Indeed, as much as another 3 percent of foundation giving over that period related to energy issues or sustainable agriculture may have supported efforts to address energy usage and current agricultural practices so as to lessen their contributions to global warming.

Fig1.1_climate action

Energy efficiency and electrification, in particular, have been a significant focus of foundation funding for climate action, with 57 percent of all climate change-related grants funded by the largest one thousand U.S. foundations between 2011-15 related to energy efficiency or renewable energy efforts. Food and agriculture, on the other hand, represented only 3 percent of climate action funding over the same period. Increasingly, however, foundations are recognizing the importance of sustainable food production in tackling climate change and are approaching the issue through an intersectional lens, as evidenced by initiatives such as Project Drawdown.

Fig. 1.2_climate action

The year 2015 also saw the adoption of the Paris Agreement, which the United States initially signed but, at the behest of the Trump administration, subsequently withdrew from. Given that the deployment of capital and funding is a critical factor in efforts to de-carbonize the global economy, the withdrawal of the U.S. from the agreement raises the question as to whether and how foundation giving has changed in response.

Detailed grantmaking data for 2016 (and subsequent years) is still being compiled, so it's difficult to draw any conclusions about the immediate response of foundations to the Trump administration’s decision. That said, several major foundations have announced significant commitments since the agreement was ratified in 2015.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (November 3-4, 2018)

November 04, 2018

Every voteA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Arts and Culture

According to a new Indiana University study, more than half of arts and culture nonprofits in the state report that demand for their services has increased over the past three years, and an even larger share reports that their expenses had increased more than their revenues, suggesting that most arts groups in the state operate in the red.

Environment

Most of us have stereotypes about who is, and isn't, an environmentalist. Most of us are wrong. Linda Poon reports for CityLab.

Higher Education

The Great Recession seems to have made a new generation of college students wary of the humanities. In The Atlantic, Jeffrey Selingo reports on what some liberal arts schools are doing to protect their investment.

Universities and colleges will have to work fast, because the AP reports that Amazon has launched a program to teach more than ten million students a year how to code, with a focus on kids and young adults from low-income families.

Journalism/Media

NewsMatch, the largest grassroots fundraising campaign in support of nonprofit news organizations, is underway. With support from a diverse group of foundations, including the Democracy Fund, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Gates Family Foundation (through the Colorado Media Project), the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Wyncote Foundation, the campaign will double donations to a hundred fifty-five nonprofit newsrooms in nearly every state across the country through December 31.

Nonprofits

As a society, we make "big bets" on lots of things — the importance of a quality education for all, the exploration of space, the outcome of the Super Bowl and World Cup. So why, asks Social Velocity's Nell Edgington, don't we make big bets on the nonprofit sector?

Continue reading »

Current Trends in Philanthropy: U.S. Foundation Support for Democracy

November 02, 2018

Heading into the midterm elections, we've seen heightened interest in the role that philanthropy plays in democratic societies, both globally and in the United States. Although foundations are prevented by law from engaging in partisan political campaigning, the regulations leave plenty of room for foundations to engage with democracy in other ways.

In 2013, a group of eight foundations commissioned Foundation Center to create an online knowledge portal, Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy, to help them better understand the range of approaches foundations are taking to strengthen democratic institutions and democracy in the United States.

Funding democracy grab

The portal features a data tool that shows how foundations have invested in four areas related to U.S. democracy: 1) Campaigns, Elections, and Voting; 2) Civic Participation; 3) Government/Civil Liberties; and 4) Media. Since 2011, Foundation Center has documented 57,000+ democracy-related grants made by more than 6,000 foundations totaling $5.1 billion. This represents about 1.5 percent of all grantmaking by U.S. foundations over that period.

Two subtopics within democracy funding currently are generating a great deal of interest among U.S. foundations — media and democracy, and immigrant rights. The impact of big-dollar philanthropy itself on democracy also has received scrutiny.

Media and Democracy. Interest in understanding and combating digital disinformation and so-called fake news has increased noticeably in the democracy funding space in recent years. In March 2018, for example, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced a commitment of $10 million over two years through its Madison Initiative to help address the problem that digital disinformation poses for democracy. As part of its commitment, Hewlett has partnered with six other foundations (the Alfred P. Sloan, Charles Koch, John S. and James L. Knight, and Laura and John Arnold foundations; the Democracy Fund; and Omidyar Network) to fund Social Science One, a new research commission tasked with using Facebook data to analyze the role of social media on elections and democracy.

Interestingly, the term "fake news" appeared in Foundation Center's grants database as far back as 2006-07 in descriptions of two grants awarded to the Center for Media and Democracy, a nationally recognized watchdog that tracks the role of money in U.S. politics. It wasn't until 2017, however, that the term began appearing in grant descriptions on a regular basis. The largest recent grant referencing "fake news" was awarded by the Ford Foundation in 2017 to the First Draft project at Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on Media in support of the project's efforts to study the impact of fake news and "fight mis- and disinformation online."

Philanthropy also actively supports "truth in media" organizations situated at different points on the political spectrum. Since 2016, we've tracked $4 million in grants awarded to the Reston, Virginia-based Media Research Center, whose mission is "to expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the Left." Over the same period, we've also identified $5.2 million in foundation grants to D.C.-based Media Matters to America, a "progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media."

Continue reading »

Current Trends in Philanthropy: International Giving by U.S. Foundations

November 01, 2018

Global-giving-report-coverInternational giving by large U.S. foundations reached an all-time high of $9.3 billion in 2015, up some 306 percent, from $2.1 billion, in 2002, when Foundation Center first started tracking it on an annual basis. During the same period, international giving also increased as a percent of total giving, from 13.9 percent in 2002 to 28.4 percent in 2015.

While the number of grants to international organizations and causes has stayed relatively stable, up some 31 percent (from 10,600 to 13,900) since 2002, average grant size has increased more than three-fold, from $200,900 in 2002 to $604,500 in 2015.

Much of that growth can be attributed to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which accounted for more than half (51 percent) of all international giving from 2011 to 2015. When Gates Foundation grantmaking is excluded, we see that international giving grew at a somewhat slower rate (21 percent) during the five-year period, reaching a high of nearly $4 billion in 2015.

Like foundation giving in general, international giving by U.S. foundations is largely project-focused: despite continued calls from nonprofit leaders for foundations to provide more general operating support, 65 percent of international giving by U.S. foundations from 2011 to 2015 was for specific projects or programs. (General support refers broadly to unrestricted funding and core support for day-to-day operating costs. Project support or program development refers to support for specific projects or programs as opposed to the general purpose of an organization. For more information, see https://taxonomy.foundationcenter.org/support-strategies.)

Data also show that U.S. foundations continue to fund international work primarily through intermediaries. From 2011 to 2015, 28 percent of international giving was channeled through U.S.-based intermediaries, 30 percent went through non-U.S. intermediaries, and just 12 percent went directly to organizations based in the country where programs were implemented. What’s more, just 1 percent of international giving was awarded in the form of general support grants directly to local organizations, and those grants were substantially smaller in size, averaging just under $242,000, while grants to intermediaries averaged just over $554,000.

It's important to note that these intermediaries vary in type and structure, and include:

  • International nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) operating programs in a different country than the country where they are headquartered.
  • U.S. public charities re-granting funds directly to local organizations.
  • Organizations indigenous to their geographic region but working across countries (i.e., not just in the country where they are headquartered).
  • Multilateral institutions working globally (e.g., the World Health Organization, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria).
  • Research institutions conducting public health research or vaccination programs targeted at specific countries that are not the country where they are headquartered.

Unsurprisingly, health was the top-funded subject area supported by U.S. foundations in the 2011 to 2015 period, with grants totaling $18.6 billion accounting for 53 percent of international grantmaking.

Continue reading »

Current Trends in Philanthropy: The Big Picture

October 29, 2018

Thebigpicture"Philanthropy" in the United States is a vast industry composed of individuals, foundations, and corporations that, in 2017, contributed $410 billion to charitable causes, an amount roughly equivalent to 2 percent of gross domestic product.

Of this total, nearly 70 percent is contributed by individuals, with more than half of that comprised of giving to congregations. The second largest source of philanthropic giving (some 24 percent) comes from grants made by private foundations like Gates, Ford, and Hewlett, which, along with a few dozen other major foundations, dominate a diverse ecosystem populated by tens of thousands of foundations of all sizes. Third is bequests, through which people designate universities, hospitals, and other tax-exempt organizations as beneficiaries in their wills. And last comes corporations — a surprise to many observers, who, given the dominant position of the private sector in the U.S. economy, no doubt assume that businesses play a far greater role in philanthropy.

My organization, Foundation Center, compiles comprehensive data on the more than 87,000 active U.S. foundations and, working with partners around the world, a growing number of foundations and foundation-like organizations in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. The center envisions a world enriched by the effective allocation of philanthropic resources, informed public discourse about philanthropy, and broad understanding of the contributions of nonprofit activity to transform lives and increase opportunity for all.

We also see U.S. philanthropy as having arrived at a critical juncture. Buoyed by a strong economy, U.S. foundations find themselves navigating a complex landscape in a volatile and highly polarized political environment. Foundations have something valuable to contribute in this environment —  namely, flexible resources free from market, electoral, and fundraising pressures. How they choose to use those resources to advance their work over the next few years is of interest to most Americans.

In a series of blog posts to be published over the next few weeks, we will look at some of the emerging issues that are getting the attention of U.S. foundations and will consider a number of frameworks (e.g., the Sustainable Development Goals) that are shaping the flow of philanthropic resources to different parts of the world. We'll also examine a variety of modalities — from traditional grant funding to experimentation with crypto-currencies — that foundations are using to advance their missions.

As many of you are aware, a growing chorus is questioning the foundation model, even as some donors are looking to experiment with new forms of philanthropy. A handful of younger philanthropists (Mark Zuckerberg, Pierre Omidyar) have opted to create limited liability corporations instead of setting up private foundations and have declared that their investments in social good will be directed to a broad spectrum of organizations and vehicles, not just tax-exempt nonprofits. Still, the predominant organizational form for U.S. philanthropy is the private grantmaking foundation, followed by corporate, operating, and community foundations. These legal structures and the regulatory framework in which they are embedded provide considerable flexibility for experimentation and innovation, and their continued popularity suggests that, for now at any rate, the "new philanthropy" is more of a rhetorical device than an actual phenomenon.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (October 27-28, 2018)

October 28, 2018

Pittsburgh synogogue vigil union sq 353A weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Climate Change

In September, we reported on a coalition of mostly U.S.-based foundations and philanthropies that have pledged $4 billion to combat climate change. But what exactly can charitable efforts on that scale do to slow the pace of global warming and help people cope with its consequences? More than you think, writes Morten Wendelbo, a research fellow at American University, on The Conversation site.

Civil Society

Palaces for the People, a new book by Eric Klinenberg, a sociology professor at New York University and director of its Institute for Public Knowledge, examines how "social infrastructure" — libraries, parks, playgrounds, gardens, child care centers, churches, and synagogues — help us form some of our most significant and abiding connections. These spaces are also crucial, Klinenberg argues, for bridging divides and safeguarding the values of democracy. Katie Pearce reports for Johns Hopkins University's Hub.

Education

A lot of kids graduate high school unprepared for success in college and beyond. A new study from the New Teacher Project, a national nonprofit focused on teacher development and educational programming, puts most of the blame on school itself. Eillie Anzilotti reports for Fast Company.

Environment

The environmental movement is a lot of great things, but diverse isn't one of them. Vu Le's organization, Rainier Valley Corps, is creating a new program called the Green Pathways Fellowship designed to addressed the situation. In his latest post, Le shares a few components of the program. 

Equity

"[Philanthropy] defines people as 'low-income', 'at-risk', 'high-crime', 'low-literacy'. We define people by stigmatizing labels," Trabian Shorters, a former Knight Foundation VP who founded BME (Black Male Engagement) Community, tells Generocity's Julie Zeglin. A better approach would be to frame our narratives in terms of assets. Or as Shorters tells Zeglin: "[T]o really advance equity, you have to remind those who are really concerned with these questions that all of us are striving to do the best we can under the conditions that we're dealt. When you remind people of that, then we look at solutions entirely differently."

Continue reading »

What's New at Foundation Center Update (October)

October 24, 2018

FC_logoAs the change of seasons brings cooler weather, I spend more time thinking about cozying up with a good book. Here at Foundation Center, we've released a lot of new content that might make for good armchair reading material. Read on to learn more:

Projects Launched

  • We're thrilled to have launched GrantCraft's latest guide, Deciding Together: Shifting Power and Resources Through Participatory Grantmaking, a first-of-its-kind look at how funders can cede decision-making power about funding decisions to the communities they aim to serve. The guide is complemented by a suite of resources at participatorygrantmaking.org. This was a labor of love for me over the past nearly two years and I’m biased, but I really think you should read this!
  • September was Nonprofit Radio Month and a number of Foundation Center staff, including Grace Sato and David Rosado of our Knowledge Services team and Susan Shiroma of our Social Sector Outreach team, were guests on Tony Martignetti’s Nonprofit Radio show, which was broadcast to viewers across the country from our beautiful library at 32 Old Slip in Manhattan's Financial District. Be sure to check out Grace, David, and Susan talking with Tony about why data matters, community foundations, and family foundations.
  • Foundation Maps: Australia was launched at the Philanthropy Australia National Conference. A joint effort of Philanthropy Australia and Foundation Center, this interactive platform is designed to facilitate greater transparency and insights about the grantmaking practices of Australian foundations.
  • In partnership with a group of community foundation leaders, CF Insights conducted a field-wide survey of community foundation CEOs to determine the level of demand for a formalized network that would help them connect with one another on issues relevant to the community foundation field. Check out the results of the survey here.
  • Foundation Center, GlobalGiving, and GuideStar released BRIDGE (Basic Registry of Identified Global Entities) information as open data, making it easier to identify and share information about entities around the world that are working to advance social good. The launch of BRIDGE open data represents both a cross-organizational collaboration as well as a collaboration between our Data and Technology and Knowledge Services teams.
  • During this webinar, Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania, Northeastern Pennsylvania Grantmakers, and Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia announced the joint launch of Pennsylvania Foundation Stats, a new online dashboard that provides a window on the philanthropic landscape in Pennsylvania as well as four distinct regions in the state.

Content Published

In the News

What We're Excited About

  • We're partnering with the Early Childhood Funders' Collaborative and the Heising-Simons Foundation on a new interactive mapping tool that will serve as a valuable starting point for funders and practitioners looking to support the learning and development of young children across the country. The tool is expected to launch in December
  • Foundation Center South doubled its Boys and Men of Color (BMOC) Executive Director Collaboration Circle funding with a $20,000 grant from the Charles M. & Mary D. Grant Foundation. The funds will support BMOC in the metro Atlanta region through a range of activities, including building the capacity of leaders and organizations, identifying and actively engaging leaders in and outside of philanthropy committed to investing in BMOC, and improving public policy in support of BMOC.
  • We'll be launching a brand-new self-paced e-learning course, How to Start a Major Gift Program, in November.
  • And we'll be participating in a panel discussion, Demystifying Nonprofit and Foundation Collaboration, at the IS-sponsored Upswell gathering in November, where we'll discuss valuable insights related to how you can create collaboration opportunities among your peers and with your grantees.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Our staff will be attending these upcoming events:

Services Spotlight

  • 212,359 new grants added to Foundation Maps in September, of which 45,078 grants were made to 6,810 organizations outside the U.S.
  • Update Central is back in Foundation Directory Online. Register for monthly alerts to ensure you’re up-to-date on grantmaker leadership changes and new foundations.
  • New data sharing partners: Muncie Altrusa Foundation; Harry M., Miriam C. & William C. Horton Foundation; Catherine McCarthy Memorial Trust Fund; and United Way of Western Connecticut. Tell your story through data so we can communicate philanthropy's contribution to making a better world — learn more about our eReporting program.
  • 18 new organizations have joined our Funding Information Network this year, including the Puerto Rico Science Technology and Research Trust, the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania, and the Roswell Public Library in Georgia.

Data Spotlight

  • Did you know that 8 percent of all human rights funding is granted to support civic and political participation? Funders around the globe are working to support the right to peaceful assembly, informed voting, and full participation in political processes. Explore humanrightsfunding.org to learn more.
  • In honor of Global Handwashing Day (October 15), we're highlighting the fact that more than 920 funders have made grants totaling $273 million to support basic sanitation and health education around the world. Check out WASHfunders.org to learn more about funders working to solve the world's water and sanitation crises.
  • Lastly, we completed custom data searches for Oregon State University, the ClimateWorks Foundation, the Bush School, Texas A&M University, McKinsey & Company / Minnesota Community Foundation, and California Environmental Associates (CEA).

If you found this update helpful, feel free to share it or shoot us an email. I'll be back next month with another update!

Jen Bokoff is director of stakeholder engagement at Foundation Center.

Weekend Link Roundup (October 20-21, 2018)

October 21, 2018

Red-Sox-Dodgers-jpg_grandeA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Agricultural

The challenges facing the world's food systems are great and becoming greater. To avoid disaster, food producers, politicians, and consumers must pursue a new vision that "account[s] for human health and nutrition, environmental impact, and the hundreds of millions of jobs that depend on farming," writes Roy Steiner, managing director, food, at the Rockefeller Foundation. That will require at least four major transformations: a shift to more "flexitarian" diets; dramatic reductions in food loss and waste; stepped-up efforts to build and conserve soils; and applying our best technologies to the most underserved regions and populations.

Civil Society

"During much of the last century, philanthropic foundations based in the United States exported American ideals about democracy, market economies, and civil society. That mission was made possible by ideological support from and alignment with the U.S. government, which, in turn, imbued foundations with prestige and influence as they operated around the world," writes Ford Foundation president Darren Walker in Foreign Affairs. But, adds Walker,

American philanthropies such as the Ford Foundation can no longer count on such support. Nor can they be sure that the goals of increased equality, the advancement of human rights, and the promotion of democracy will find backing in Washington.
As U.S. leadership of the global order falters, American foundations must blaze a new path. The first step will be recognizing difficult truths about their history. The old order they helped forge was successful in many ways but also suffered from fundamental flaws, including the fact that it often privileged the ideas and institutions in prosperous Western countries and failed to foster equitable growth and stability in poorer countries. For all the good that American philanthropies have done, they have also helped perpetuate a system that produces far too much inequality. Their task today is to contribute to the construction of a new, improved order, one that is more just and sustainable than its predecessor....

In a time when society seems to be coming apart at the seams, libraries may just be "the last safe, free, truly public space where people from all walks of life may encounter each other.” In Quartz, Jenny Anderson looks at how libraries are reinventing themselves for the twenty-first century.

Climate Change

"I do not expect every foundation, corporation, and nonprofit to make climate change its top priority; there are many urgent issues that demand attention," writes Packard Foundation president Carol Larson on the foundation's website. "But if you care about children, if you care about health, or you care about economic development, you have to care about climate change. There is a role for every organization to play, and an urgent need for every organization to seize the opportunities in front of it...."

Continue reading »

A Conversation With Lori Villarosa, Founder and Executive Director, Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity

October 19, 2018

Lori Villarosa’s career in philanthropy has been driven by twin passions: to do good and to fight injustice. As a program officer at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in the 1990s, she managed the foundation’s U.S. Race Relations portfolio, which was focused on addressing institutional and societal racism in American society and improving race and ethnic relations. Informed by the videotaped beating of Rodney King, an African-American taxi driver, by four white LAPD officers after a routine traffic stop and the officers’ subsequent acquittal by an all-white jury — and the spasm of outrage and violence that followed the announcement of the verdict — the work was, as Villarosa puts it, “incredibly challenging” and, inevitably, led to a backlash. Undeterred, Villarosa left Mott a few years later to start the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE), which, since its inception in January 2003, has directly engaged hundreds of foundation representatives in discussions of racial equity and, in particular, how they can advance the mission of achieving racial equity through their own philanthropic institutions.

That work, as well as the work done by CHANGE Philanthropy (formerly known as Joint Affinity Groups), was instrumental in establishing racial justice and racial equity as areas deserving of and, indeed, demanding greater attention and funding from foundations. And foundations, hesitantly at first but with increasing urgency, have responded. Now a project of the Tides Center, PRE continues to be part of that movement, working diligently and creatively to increase the amount and effectiveness of resources aimed at combating institutional and structural racism in communities across the country.

Earlier this year, PND spoke with Villarosa about the difference between racial equity and racial justice, the challenges of racial equity/justice work in the Age of Trump, and the lessons she and her colleagues have learned as they have worked to create a more just society.

Headshot_lori_villarosaPhilanthropy News Digest: I'd like to start with a definitional question. Is there a difference between racial equity and racial justice, or can the terms be used interchangeably?

Lori Villarosa: PRE is actually working on two publications right now that are diving into that question in different ways. We'll be sharing a mix of what advocates say about the distinctions and relationship between the terms and how funders who are doing work in this arena are understanding and using them.

PRE put out one of the earliest definitions of what it means to use a racial equity lens in grantmaking in a guide we developed in conjunction with GrantCraft. Julie Quiroz, who was a principal at Mosaic Consulting at the time and is now with Movement Strategy Center, and I wrote that a racial equity lens included the following components: analyzing data and information about race and ethnicity; understanding racial disparities — and learning why they exist; looking at problems and their root causes from a structural standpoint; and naming race explicitly when talking about problems and solutions. The guide was also very clear about a racial equity lens needing to be used intersectionally with other lenses such as gender or sexual orientation, and it also spoke about the importance and role of power and of organizing.

We wanted to be even more explicit about it when we launched the process to update the guide earlier this year. Most of the advocates and funders we have been interviewing see racial equity as addressing the distribution of resources, privileges, and burdens — related to the quantitative, with some qualitative mixed in — across racial/ethnic group lines. They — and we — tend to use the phrase "racial justice" more when looking both at the power to define issues — and what it takes to secure that power — and more generally looking at outcomes that are ultimately transformative and positive for all. We plan to elaborate on this more in the report and will address the strategies that activists and funders are using to advance both concepts — and what they see as the relationship between the two. It was interesting to me, for example, that while many believe racial equity is one indicator on the path to racial justice, we spoke to others who thought the terms could be, or are less, interdependent than that.

In our work, we try to bring clarity and precision to the language around this work where it’s useful and meaningful, yet not be so precious about it that it keeps people from entering into the work, at whatever stage. And we recognize that while there are distinctions, there is considerable work that needs to be done to achieve both greater racial equity and greater racial justice. Where we do get more particular is when people substitute "equity" as a way to avoid talking about race and racism explicitly, or when they substitute "social justice" as a catch-all phrase and maybe focus their program on class but not race.

PND: What was the impetus behind the formation of PRE? Was it a single event or conversation, a series of events, or something else entirely?

LV: I was a program officer at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in the 1990s and had worked with colleagues there, as well as with community and national racial justice partners and some of our peer funders, to develop and move a portfolio and broader body of work aimed at addressing issues of structural racism. The approved mission statement of the portfolio I managed was: "To address institutional and societal racism and improve race and ethnic relations." That was in 1994, at a time when that language was pretty cutting-edge, and we were able to fund many of the organizations that led much of the work on structural racism nationally. It was incredibly challenging work, in that it was often unchartered territory, and the discomfort people felt when confronted by the truth of our collective history and the eventual backlash the work generated wasn't unique to our institution. Without getting into the weeds, there came a point after the UN World Conference Against Racism in South Africa, and after 9/11, where many of our early investments started to gain a different level of traction, and it became clear after twelve years of building that body of work that if we wanted to keep supporting the racial justice field and advance it in the direction it needed to move, we would have to focus more of our efforts on increasing the pool of funders willing to invest in work to address structural racism.

So I left the foundation to launch PRE with seed support and a founding board that primarily consisted of the leaders we had been investing in, and our goal was to get the rest of philanthropy to join us. I was very intentional about partnering with existing infrastructure organizations, what we used to call affinity groups and regional associations of grantmakers and we now call philanthropy-serving organizations [PSOs], and making sure that we were guided by folks in the racial justice field rather than by funders — while being responsive, of course, to the needs of change agents within foundations.

Continue reading »

Philanthropy's Under-Investment in Holding High Finance Accountable: A Gamble We Can’t Afford

October 17, 2018

Monopoly_top_hatTen years ago, President George W. Bush signed into law the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, authorizing $700 billion in federal funding to buy troubled assets from banks deemed to be in danger of failing as a result of the subprime foreclosure crisis.

A lot has changed since then, but one thing has remained the same: progressive philanthropy continues to under-prioritize efforts to hold the financial industry accountable.

It's a choice that risks undermining the headway progressive foundations are making on issues of inequality and wealth building. Placing big bets on policies designed to lift up low- and moderate-income communities while failing to address the accountability of financial institutions is a gamble we cannot afford to take — not least because it puts at risk the very people we are trying to serve.

American households lost $16 trillion in wealth in the years after the 2007-08 financial crisis. And while some experts estimate that Americans have regained $14.6 trillion, or 91 percent, of those losses in the decade since, the collapse affected different segments of society unequally, with the gains just as unequally distributed. In other words, both the crash and the recovery increased inequality in America.

The impact on African Americans was especially profound. Nearly 8 percent of African-American homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure in the years after the crisis, compared with only 4.5 percent of white homeowners, and between 2007 and 2010 African Americans saw their retirement accounts lose 35 percent of their value. Indeed, according to the National Association of Realtors, African Americans lost fully half their wealth as a result of the financial crisis.

It's not just the likelihood of future financial crises that should give philanthropic leaders pause; it's also the fact that an under-regulated and unaccountable financial industry will continue to target communities of color and low-income communities with sketchy products and put vulnerable households at risk.

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Weekend Link Roundup (October 13-14, 2018)

October 14, 2018

105499618-4ED5-BL-HurricaneMichaelV2-101018.600x337A weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Climate Change

As the global climate continues to warm, there's a "material difference" between 1.5 degrees C of warming and 2 C degrees. Kelly Levin, a senior associate with the World Resources Institute's global climate program, looks at some of them. And Adele Peters, a staff writer at Fast Company, suggests that holding warming to the former, while difficult, might not be impossible.

According to a poll conducted by researchers from Yale, George Mason University, and Climate Nexus, a majority of voters in North Carolina post-Hurricane Florence are worried about climate change (60 percent) and think it's appropriate to talk about the issue when disaster strikes (55 percent). HuffPost's Jeremy Deaton reports.  

Disaster Relief

Hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms ever to strike the continental U.S., hammered the Florida Panhandle before carving a path of destruction across Georgia and North Carolina. We're tracking institutional pledges and commitments to relief and recovery efforts here. And Fast Company has put together a list of fifteen things you can do to help the storm's victims.

Education

On her Answer Sheet blog, Kevin Welner, a co-director of the Schools of Opportunity project and director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado, and Linda Molner Kelley, a co-director of Schools of Opportunity and director for outreach and engagement at the University of Colorado, look at how William C. Hinckley High School in Aurora, Colorado, used a restorative justice approach to change its culture.

Giving

As we head into the holiday season, families and friends should think about allocating some of the money they planned to spend on gifts to a commonly determined cause, writes philanthropy consultant Bill DeBoskey. "Imagine the result," adds DeBoskey, "if each of us pledged to donate to a worthy cause just 10 percent of what we would otherwise spend on holiday gifts, food and candy."

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Tracking Hurricane Michael Disaster Relief

October 12, 2018

Updated: November 16, 2018 - 3:00 PM ET

Hurricane Michael first showed up in early October as a low-pressure area in the western Caribbean. After meandering for a few days, it began to organize itself and then intensified rapidly as it moved past Cuba into the Gulf of Mexico, becoming a tropical depression on October 7 and a Category 1 hurricane just twenty-four hours later. By Tuesday, October 9, it had strengthened into a Cat 3 with winds of more than 120 mph, and by the time it smashed into the Florida Panhandle near Mexico Beach on Wednesday, October 10, it was a Cat 4 with sustained winds of 155 mph.

For many, the unprecedented nature of the storm — the most intense tropical cyclone to strike the U.S. since Andrew in 1992, the third most intense storm in terms of barometric pressure ever to make landfall in the U.S., and the strongest hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle on record — was disturbing, its rapid intensification and the path of destruction it carved across four states cause for alarm, coming as it did just days after the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report warning of dire consequences if greenhouse gas emissions are not cut dramatically over the next decade. As of October 30, the death toll had risen to forty-five, including thirty-five people in Florida, and estimates of the damage were holding steady at between $8 billion and $30 billion.

As we did with Florence, Foundation Center will be tracking institutional pledges and commitments for relief and recovery efforts here on PhilanTopic. To make sure your company or organization's pledge have been included in the total, or for questions about methodology or sources, please contact Andrew Grabois, manager of corporate philanthropy at Foundation Center.

Mexico Beach destruction

(Photo credit: Reuters)

TOTAL: $35,780,272

Organization Type (pledges and commitments)

Corporate Direct Giving/
Company-Sponsored Foundations
$25,280,272 59 orgs.
Private Foundations $500,000 2 org.
Public Charities $10,000,000 9 orgs.

Top Recipients (Total Received to Date)

1. Unknown Recipient(s) $14,800,000
2. American Red Cross
(national)
$7,947,272
3. Multiple recipients $7,200,000
4. Florida Disaster Fund $2,850,000
5. Volunteer Florida $500,000
6. United Way Worldwide $375,000
7. Team Rubicon $325,000
8. Salvation Army $275,000
9. Samaritan's Purse $250,000
10. Center for Disaster Philanthropy $250,000

Source: Foundation Center & Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Download the Data

Check out Philanthropy News Digest for the latest coverage of
the philanthropic response to Hurricane Michael.

And for more data on philanthropic giving for disasters since 2011, check out
our Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy mapping platform.

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  • "Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated...."

    — Kofi Annan (1938-2018)

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